The Dimension of Deliberate Do-Nothingness

I came across an article today that I wanted to hang onto for future reference. I don’t know about you, but I’m really bad about filing stuff on my computer. Come to think of it, I am really bad about filing stuff in real life too. I see a pattern here. Perhaps I should learn the basics of good filing habits. But that is off our subject more than slightly.

THEN I had the bright idea of blogging about the article so that I will not lose it!  So here we are.

I love learning about how people learn. I love studying about the brain and how it affects behavior and shapes its owner. What makes one person able to reach into his creative self and pull out innovation after innovation?

I am a BIG fan of giving kids time to ruminate, ponder, and dream.

Entrepreneurs are passionate individuals, and their passions vary widely according to how they were wired in the womb as well as what opportunities have been available to them along their pathway. Nature and nurture and all that junk.

Sadly, there is one thing missing in a lot of kids’ lives these days which is conducive to creativity: what I call deliberate do-nothingness.

Screen time is prevalent among the youth of our culture. Like you hadn’t noticed, right? Parents need to set parameters on the amount of time their kiddos spend behind screens if it is at the expense of free-thinking time, deliberate do-nothingness time. Kids who lack opportunities to read books (or to choose to read books because there is absolutely NOTHING ELSE TO DO) and who lack opportunity to putter around in their rooms or in their backyards, just lolling about thinking are missing out on a childhood of deep thought opportunities.

America NEEDS entrepreneurs, but where will they come from if kids today don’t take time to explore their very own THOUGHTS?

I want my home-educated kids to have a plethora of time on their hands. Sure, there are seasons to our lives, and some seasons are busier than others, but there needs to be a distinct dimension of deliberate do-nothingness which permeates their young lives. Why? Because thinkers create. 

Back to what I wanted to keep to read later:

Below is a list of The 4 Phases of Ideation. (I learned a new word today ~ ideation. Cool!) If you are a thinker and a creator, you’ll most likely see how these phases cycle in your own life.

Thank you, Katie Christensen, for your creativity in putting this list together. 😉


“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”  – Steve Jobs

Phase 1: Knowledge Accumulation

This initial stage of ideation is all about absorbing as much information as possible. This stage is all about hunger for knowledge which you can attempt to satisfy through reading articles, joining discussion groups, or attending events that educate us on our domain of interest. As you process these new concepts, you end up with many more questions than you started out with. This is your brain telling you what pieces of the puzzle are missing, to encourage you to continue feeding yourself more information.

As Steven Johnson explains in his study of scientific pioneers, “Ideas are built out of self-exciting networks of neurons, clusters of clusters…When we think of a certain concept, or experience some new form of stimulus, a complex network of neuronal groups switches on in synchrony.” The more information you feed your mind, the quicker your brain can establish new connections to generate ideas from.

Phase 2: Incubation

With all that newly acquired information, it’s always best to step away to let it all sink in. Your subconscious knows your goals, desires, and needs more clearly than your conscious does. Once you rest from knowledge absorption, the incubation phase begins transferring that information to your subconscious which reorganizes and strengthens neuron connections.

The brain incorporates past experiences and knowledge with our conscious accumulation of information, to find unique solutions to our interests. From this, it can identify gaps and will attempt to work itself using the information it has. As the difficulty of finding a solution increases, the level of creativity required does as well. If you are still stumped, it means you don’t have enough of the puzzle put together yet to see the big picture, so the best solution is to return to the absorption phase and build on from there.

Phase 3: The Idea Experience

If you are having trouble getting from Phase 2 to 3, some proven ways to speed up the transition are to; contemplate the idea some more, switch up your work environment, participate in monotonous activities to relax your mind, address tasks that are distracting you, and write down any thoughts that pop into your head. These actions will help you relax and clarify your mind so you can extract those ideas more effortlessly when the time comes.

This next phase occurs when your mind overcomes a gap and you have your notorious ‘aha’ moment. Suddenly, your confusion is simplified and clouded thoughts seem much clearer. Once the subconscious can piece together a creative solution in a way that makes logical sense, the solution is brought into conscious awareness where you can then decide on a plan of action.

Phase 4: Implementation

The Implementation phase is where you find ways to incorporate your idea into daily life. Persistence is a key factor as each idea worth implementing will most likely run into temporary setbacks before it becomes successful. It will take several attempts at restructuring your idea before it will achieve its final form. In the meantime, begin testing your idea, ask for consumer opinion, and most importantly, don’t let your hunger go satisfied.

Don’t forget there are many different fields of innovation, such as in coordinating events, improving services, inventing products, writing programs, and throwing parties among countless more. Once you realize the creative capability of your brain make a commitment to incorporate your ideas into all areas of your life. With a taste of your own potential, it very well could be your words that appear at the top of the next article.

References: Kuratko, Donald F.; Hornsby, Jeffrey S.; Goldsby, Michael (2011-09-30). Innovation Acceleration: Transforming Organizational Thinking (Prentice Hall Entrepreneurship Series)

Katie Christensen is a senior at Loyola University Chicago studying entrepreneurship, and currently works as the Director of New Business Ventures at Loyola Limited. You can reply to her directly at and follow her on Twitter @ktfromchicago


About the Author

Joanne Calderwood has been called America’s Homeschool Mom. She is an underwhelmed Mom of eight great kids, owner of, and an author and columnist. Her new book, The Self-Propelled Advantage: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellence, enables parents to teach their kids to teach themselves with excellence.


2 Responses to The Dimension of Deliberate Do-Nothingness

  1. Jenny says:

    I find that Stage 2 is aided by jobs like washing dishes, weeding the garden, breaking beans, etc. — the hands are busy but the mind is free to roam. That’s when some of my best ideas come to me!

    • urthemom says:

      That’s great insight, Jenny! Thank you for sharing it. ❤ ❤

      (Y'all: JENNY IS MY MENTOR!! When she speaks, pay close attention. She is a very, very wise woman.)


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